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‘Not all mass timber is created equal’: FSC Canada

May 11, 2022  By FSC Canada

Photo supplied, credit: Stéphane Groleau.

FSC Canada congratulates the City of Toronto for incorporating mass timber as part of an upcoming affordable housing pilot project. The pilot project, if approved, would create one of the largest wood buildings in Toronto, a 10-storey building with 200 rental units at Dundas and Ossington. The building will use the Toronto Green Standard Version 4, which outlines that 25 per cent of the raw materials meet at least two of the criteria listed – one of which is the wood products must be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or CaGBC-approved equivalent.

“Right now, as the construction industry looks for sustainable ways to meet increased housing demands around the world, mass timber is taking centre stage.” says Francois Dufresne, president of FSC Canada. “However, not all mass timber is created equal. It is critical to assess not only the distance the timber needs to travel but also the source of the wood.”

During a recent discussion series, Material Worlds: Mass Timber, hosted by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Dufresne shared that while mass timber remains a better option in construction versus steel and concrete, the worst-case scenario timber design (i.e. sourcing wood from unsustainable sources and transporting it over long distances) continues to emit carbon and contribute to global warming. Whereas the best-case scenario, timber design from sustainable sources transported over shorter distances, can sequester carbon and have a cooling effect. (To view the full Material World’s discussion click here.)

Source: ARUP/Bruce King “The New Carbon Architecture”

A great example of the best-case scenario is Origin, a 13-storey, 92-unit building, in Quebec City’s up-and-coming Pointeaux-Lièvres ecodistrict. This project includes 3,111 m3 (110,000 ft3) of FSC-certified Quebec-sourced wood from Nordic Structures. This resulted in the sequestration of 2,295 metric tons of CO2, and the equivalent of 1,000 metric tons of CO2 were avoided by using wood instead of other materials (source).


Other mass timber projects that utilize FSC-certified wood include the Bullitt Center in Seattle, the Formula 1 Grand Prix Paddock in Montreal, as well as many other projects throughout North America and the world.

Learn more about FSC and mass timber here.

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